Mobility and Access in African Cities (MAC)

The primary goal of the MAC program is to enhance the capacity for research and education in the broad area of urban access and mobility within Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The program aims to foster the production and dissemination of locally grounded, cross-disciplinary knowledge which offers approaches, potential solutions and innovations for addressing challenges related to urban mobility and access in SSA.

The program encompasses six core themes that have strong relevance for achieving sustainable and equitable urban mobility and access in sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Theme 1: User Needs and Practices, Equity Issues
  • Theme 2: Governance, Politics, Institutions and Finance
  • Theme 3: Emerging Business Models and Service Options
  • Theme 4: Safety, Health and the Urban Environment
  • Theme 5: System Design and Modal Integration
  • Theme 6: Analytical Tools

In focus 2024:

African Research Programs (ARP-MACs) – new initiative

A major initiative in the development of the MAC program is the upcoming launching of African Research Programs (ARP-MAC), where VREF has provided planning grants to several consortia who are currently working on developing full proposals for ARP-MACs in specific thematic areas. Up to three ARP-MACs are expected to become operational in early 2025.

African Transport Research Conference (ATRC)

Another major MAC initiative is co-creating and co-organizing the 1st African Transport Research Conference in Cape Town 5-7 March 2024.

Outcomes 2019-2023:

Research projects

In the first five years of the program (2019-2023), MAC initiated almost 50 multidisciplinary research projects, special studies and “think pieces” involving over 200 researchers and 10-20 Ph.D. candidates at over 100 universities in West Africa, East Africa and South Africa. Researchers within the program have also collaborated with a large number of international scholars from other world regions, as well as many non-academic organizations and stakeholders.

Community of learning

To foster communities of learning and facilitate the exchange of scientific knowledge and insights from these projects and other studies, VREF organizes numerous activities, such as in-person research workshops and regular online seminars (“Research Forums”). During the first five years of the program, hundreds of scholars and others have participated in MAC Research Forums.


In the area of education, MAC has initiated “Skills and Tools” short courses for building academic capacity among young scholars, as well as projects for “Catalyzing Curriculum Change” at selected African universities. Other career opportunities for young scholars in the MAC community include possibilities to receive mobility grants and awards.


For updates about MAC research, upcoming online MAC Research Forums and other activities, sign up for the MAC newsletter via the form below,  and follow VREF on LinkedIn. Contact: If you have questions or ideas, don’t hesitate to contact VREF at

Funding, Publications, Research Projects:


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